My daughter: “Mama, isn’t Cinco de Mayo coming up?”
Me: “Yes, it’s a few weeks away.”
Her: “It’s always so much fun. What day is it again?”
Me: “Seriously, you don’t remember? CINCO? MAYO?”
Yes, this conversation really happened at my house recently. And it made me realize that we might need a little refresher course on this holiday. I like introducing my kids to other cultures. They both have passports because we’ve actually been fortunate enough to visit a few foreign places. But traveling is pricey and time-consuming. And sometimes we, as parents, need to find creative ways to bring the country to the children.
So, here a few fun and easy ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and the Mexican culture with your family.
Cinco de Mayo Activities for Kids
Speak it. Thanks to Dora the Explorer, many of your children (like mine) may already be able to count to ten in Spanish. But, if not, there’s no better time to teach them. One of the easiest ways is to write the English word on one side of a note card and Spanish on the other. Adding visuals (drawings, magazine clippings, etc.) to the cards will help speed up the memorization process. Or visit a website like Spanish-games.net, which offers interactive games to help in learning the language.
Eat it. Sure, your kids have eaten Mexican food, but have they ever made it? With dishes like tacos, burritos and quesadillas, the fun is in the assembly. Just put out some tortillas, (pre-cooked) meats, cheese, beans, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, green onions and olives, and let them get to work. Want to try something a little harder? Let them make the salsa or guacamole. Cut up everything in advance and give them the ingredients. It’s all about mashing and mixing. And what kid isn’t good at that? Oh, and for dessert …
Whack it. Pick up a piñata at your nearest party supply store or, if you’re feeling especially imaginative, try your hand at making one. Countless tutorials can be found on YouTube and Pinterest. Fill your piñata with individually wrapped candy and trinkets and hang it outside in a cleared area. Then, let each child take a turn (blindfolded, of course) hitting the piñata (with a broomstick or plastic bat) until the candy spills out on the ground for everyone.
Dance it. One of the most traditional dances associated with the culture is the Mexican Hat Dance. Performed to the tune of El Jarabe Tapatio, the dance is an easy one to teach to children because it’s really only two simple steps:
- Step 1: Kick alternating heels out three times then clap twice. Ex. Step-heel, step-heel, step-heel, clap-clap (total of 8 times)
- Step 2: At chorus, link arms with partner and skip in a circle. Reverse circle direction repeatedly until chorus ends.
Truly, there’s a reason that Cinco de Mayo is celebrated so far beyond its Mexican borders. You’re learning, you’re eating, you’re playing and you’re dancing! It’s just about impossible NOT to have fun on this special holiday. Of course, now that there’s shredded cheese all over your floor, candy all over your yard and children dancing everywhere, don’t you think it’s time for a siesta?
Michele Robert Poche is the founder and editor of Old Dog New Tits, an award-winning blog about whatever craziness crosses her family’s path. She is a freelance writer for various websites, magazines and newspapers and is always looking for new projects.
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